Casting Director
 Lois Siegel

LOIS SIEGEL was Casting Director in Montreal for 10 years.

Family Motel

Siegel recently worked as Casting Director for the alternative drama “Family Motel,” a co-production between Instinct Films, Montreal, and The National Film Board of Canada. The film is a sympathetic look at what happens to families when, in spite of all their efforts, the rent is too high, and their salaries are too low.

 Her casting projects include the following:
(docu-drama: young offenders), directed by John Smith,
(Emmy Award, Best Children's Special, Disney Channel, 1992)
 directed by Michael Rubbo;

PRINCES IN EXILE (cancer camp for kids), directed by Giles Walker. 

HOCKEY DREAMS (Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto),
 and  classical music videos for Rhombus Media, Inc., Toronto:
PROKOFIEV BY TWO (3 Gemini Awards 1991-1992),
DE FALLA, (Photos)
 and BOLERO featuring The Montreal Symphony Orchestra.

Orleans Star / Weekly Journal
July 17, 2006

East end actors check-in at the 'Family Motel'
By Wes Smiderle

    ©Photo by Darren Brown

Orleans actor Justin Laférière, right, talks with Quebec actress Kayla Marok as they wait for direction on the set of Family Motel being filmed at the Concorde Motel on Montreal Road in Vanier (Ottawa) Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2006.

                      Joy Rutherford
Joy Rutherford's acting aspirations concluded last week with a six-hour OC Transpo bus ride and she couldn't have been more pleased.
"We got on the bus and off the bus. We sat here on the bus and there on the bus," recalled Rutherford. "It was fun."

The movie is "Family Motel," a docu-drama that's still being shot at a local motel and several other locations (including one scene to be shot in mid-October in an orthodontist's office on St. Joseph Boulevard).

Earlier this week, 14-year-old Rockland resident Justin Laférière  became the latest of many east end residents to enjoy his film debut. Laférière played a small role during scenes shot at a motel, the titular setting of Family Motel.

The movie is a speculative drama set in a world where hundreds of Canadian families have been evicted from their homes because of soaring rents and lack of affordable housing. With shelters filled to bursting, city governments are forced to rent out cheap motels to accommodate homeless families.

The result is an uncomfortable assortment of the working poor, new homeowners caught unable to make mortgage payments and others with troubled pasts caught in precarious circumstances.

The main characters are a family from Somalia, new to the country and Ottawa. The family is being cast by the producers (in consultation with the Somali community), but all other speaking roles were cast by Orléans-based photographer and filmmaker Lois Siegel.

©Photo by Darren Brown
Lois Siegel

Although she originally auditioned to play a social worker, Rutherford landed a role as an extra. She played an anonymous civil servant, essentially part of the background during scenes used to establish how one of the main characters must work two or three jobs just to make ends meet.

Rutherford and her fellow movie extras had to be "absolutely quiet" during shooting as the sound technician recorded the sounds of the bus's engine and its wheels rolling over the road. Shooting lasted from about 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. on a bus.

"We thought we'd be in an office, but the focus was more on going to work," she said.

The docu-drama is co-produced by the NFB and Instinct Films, a company based in Montreal.

A docu-drama is a film that blends documentary and fictional elements. Generally, the setting or story being told is fictional, but the actors involved are "real" -- meaning they are non-actors representing their own views and values through a fictional setting and story.

Actors aren't required to memorize any lines but instead improvise scenes and, to a large extent, represent their own opinions and reactions to what happens in the scene and the actions of other characters.

Rutherford said when she auditioned for the role of social worker, she didn't recite written lines but had to interact with another character. She found the audition especially to be interesting insight into filmmaking.

"It was a fantastic experience," said Rutherford, an Orléans resident and retired school principal. "It was just fascinating."

Shooting for the film is expected to last at least another six weeks.

Indie film finds home in Ottawa Print E-mail
Written by Katherine Ellis
Photos by Lois Siegel
Thursday, 21 September 2006
Andre Gaumond gives directions on set
Ottawa residents will hit the small screen next year with the locally produced docu-drama Family Motel, filming until mid-October.

And they are not professional actors; they are everyday people like you and me.

"We didn't want professional actors," said Lois Siegel, casting director for the film.

Siegel was in charge of finding real people who could fill the requirements for extras.

"I put notices in the paper to fill in the roles of people to be around the motel, immigrants, all the other roles like social workers, landlords and others. My job is networking, talking to people and getting connections," said Siegel.

One such person was Patricia Gordon, mother to one of the actors.

"I'm a mom. I was going with my son to have his first film experience," she said. "I never had experience acting on anything, they asked me to play an assistant. I don't say anything, I just bring in papers. It was still fun."

Another was Fiona Gilfillan.

"We rode the bus for six hours so that they could film the main character going to work and coming home," she said.

Funded by the National Film Board, Family Motel is directed by Helene Klodawsky. The film is about the situation of many Canadian families living in poor conditions. Many recently immigrated and Canadian families are placed in motel rooms before they can afford low-cost housing.

The film is being shot at one of these sites.

The Concorde Motel in Vanier, situated in a high crime area, is not "one of the best places for newly arrived immigrants," said Siegel.

The film centers around a family of Somalian women: a mother and two daughters.

They are not newly immigrated, having been in Canada for five years, but are still forced to live in this motel.

The struggle to make a better life in Canada is at the forefront of the movie, according to Ina Fichman, producer of the film.

"Almost two years of research went in the film," said Fichman.

The director came across the situation while filming another docu-drama, Nickel and Dime, about homeless families in Canada.

"The concept of homelessness in Canada is different. If you are middle class and things happen, you loose your money, you then become a homeless family," said Fichman.

The message of the film is "we want to show the resilience and the strengths of immigrant women and how they can ultimately make a life for themselves," she said.

Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller
Casting Director: Lois Siegel

Film Director, Michael Rubbo, Searches for Kids who Auditioned for his Films in the Late 80s

Michael Rubbo



Rufus Wainwright sings I'm Runnin at 12

Rufus Wainwright

"I'm A-Runnin"

Anthony Rogers
 as Tommy

Paul Popowich

VINCENT AND ME (Emmy Award, Best Children's Special, Disney Channel, 1992)
directed by Michael Rubbo
Casting Director: Lois Siegel

The National Film Board of Canada

Siegel cast the Sri Lankans in "Welcome to Canada," directed by John N. Smith.



Lois Siegel's Home Page